In recent years, styles of leadership have been analyzed and reformed as those in authority begin to recognize the benefits of bucking the status quo. One of these styles is inclusive leadership.

Inclusive leadership is an approach that has gained popularity for the positive impact it has on leaders, employees, and organizations alike. 

Are you curious to learn more about this? Keep reading our essential guide to find out the huge impact inclusive leadership can have on your workplace.

Inclusive leadership

What is Inclusive Leadership?

Inclusive leadership means everyone’s ideas are important. So, it’s not just the bosses making all the decisions. Instead, everyone talks and shares their thoughts. This way, everyone in the organization can communicate openly and also give feedback.

In any company, there will be many different levels of experience and knowledge. You may have tech geniuses who know multiple coding languages and others, less tech-savvy ones who regularly Google things like “call phone from computer”. This goes for any topic or problem. 

The point is, it’s important to hear different opinions because it helps both the company and its employees. So, when people from diverse backgrounds can share their thoughts, it makes the workplace better. Talking about ideas helps solve problems in creative ways. Also, getting everyone’s points of view helps find better solutions.

In inclusive leadership, everyone in the team can join discussions and help solve problems, no matter their rank. This makes employees feel important. Plus, leaders also get different and helpful ideas from people who want the company to do well.

Key Traits of Inclusive Leaders

These are the traits that an inclusive leader should embody: 

  • Empathy. Good inclusive leaders are kind and caring. Just listening to others isn’t enough. So, leaders need to understand how their team members feel. Also, they need to consider those feelings when making decisions.
  • Social connection. Inclusive leaders understand the importance of talking to people and getting to know them. They make real friendships with their team members and encourage others to do the same. So, this is really important for creating an inclusive workplace.
  • Encourage participation. An inclusive leader asks everyone for their opinions and listens to what they say. So, they make sure everyone’s different viewpoints are considered. By making it easy for everyone to join in, leaders create a friendly space where everyone can work together.
  • Recognition. When you thank someone, it should be specific and genuine. Inclusive leaders make their appreciation personal, so the person feels really proud and like they belong.

Benefits and Challenges of Inclusive Leadership

There are many benefits of inclusion in the workplace, but there can also be some challenges along the way. Let’s explore both.

The Benefits

  • Team innovation. When people with different ideas and experiences work together, teams can come up with great solutions. Thus, many minds working together means lots of creative ideas.
  • Reduced turnover. Everyone wants to feel valued and respected in their workplace. Inviting all staff to contribute their ideas in a safe environment will give them greater job satisfaction and reduce staff turnover. 
  • Trust and psychological safety. When everyone’s ideas are appreciated, teams feel safe and trusting. So, people speak up and share their thoughts without worrying about others judging them. Thus, it makes the team stronger.

The Challenges

  • Role ambiguity. There is a risk that an inclusive leadership approach may lead to role ambiguity within teams. When decision-making processes involve multiple perspectives, it can become unclear who holds the final responsibility for certain tasks or choices.
  • Power struggles. Striving for inclusivity might inadvertently lead to power struggles within teams. So, as different points of view are considered, conflicts about whose ideas should take precedence can arise.
  • Resistance to change. Some people might not like the new inclusive way of leading because they’re used to the old methods. But it takes time and patience to get everyone involved, especially when people need to adjust to new ways of making decisions and working together.

Implementing Inclusive Leadership

A good leader will always do what’s best for their organization and employees, whether that’s a budget decision to ensure financial stability or a crucial operational choice to make their teams’ working lives easier.

Deciding to use inclusive leadership is great for both the company and its employees. So, there are two main parts to it: making a safe environment and making sure everyone gets to play a part.

Creating a Safe Space

Making a safe environment in the team or company is the first thing in inclusive leadership. Just saying that everyone’s ideas are welcome isn’t enough. So, leaders need to really make sure people feel safe to share their thoughts.

Team members need to feel safe to express their points of view and may find it difficult to do this. Below are a few ideas on how to create a safe and welcoming space.

  • Active listening. It means really paying attention when someone talks, trying to understand them, and showing you care about what your team says. So, this makes them feel important and helps everyone talk openly.
  • Non-judgmental attitude. Inclusive leaders don’t label ideas as good or bad. This helps create a culture where different opinions are important, and people aren’t scared of making mistakes.
  • Feedback as growth. Accepting feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow is the mindset of an inclusive leader. This attitude allows for honest conversations and improvement for both the individual and the wider team.
  • Personalized recognition. Inclusive leaders should make sure to appreciate each team member in a way that matters to them. This can be done by saying thanks in front of everyone or sending a personal thank-you note.
  • Empathetic engagement. Good inclusive leaders show they care by showing that they understand how their team members feel. This fosters a feeling of connection in the team. And it also shows that their opinions are important.

Encouraging Participation

Making sure everyone talks and shares their ideas is important. Inclusive leaders ask everyone, even those who don’t usually speak up, to share their thoughts. This makes everyone feel like they belong.

  • Asking for input. Inclusive leaders actively ask everyone for their ideas when making decisions. So, it’s not just saying all opinions are welcome; they really want to hear from everyone. This shows that everyone’s ideas matter.
  • Minimizing obstacles. Identifying and addressing any barriers that might prevent certain team members from participating is one of the top inclusion tips for the workplace. This could mean adjusting meeting formats or providing alternative communication channels to suit the diverse needs of team members.
  • Getting to know team members. Inclusive leaders must understand what their team members want and where they come from. This helps leaders know each person better and creates a close-knit workplace.
  • Open communication. Inclusive leaders are easy to talk to. They’re open to discussing work and personal stuff with their team.
  • Encouraging autonomy. When team members are given freedom in their jobs, they find more meaning in their work and understand how they fit into the company’s big picture.

Measuring the Success of Inclusive Leadership

Implementing an inclusive leadership plan is step one. Next, it’s time to assess the impact this leadership style has had on the workforce and business.

Reduced Turnover 

Inclusive leadership plays a pivotal role in reducing turnover intention within organizations. When leaders prioritize inclusivity, team members feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute meaningfully. This sense of belonging and recognition translates into higher job satisfaction and commitment. 

So, when employees feel valued and included, they want to stay in their jobs and move up in the company. This reduces the number of people leaving their jobs. Inclusive leadership also stops talented people from leaving because they feel left out or not appreciated. This also helps the company keep its talented employees and be more stable.

Higher Net Promoter Scores 

Net Promoter Scores (NPS) reflect the level of satisfaction and loyalty among employees. Inclusive leadership positively influences NPS by creating a workplace culture where individuals feel supported, heard, and valued. 

When employees feel included, they talk about how awesome their workplace is. This makes other talented people want to join too. So, inclusive leadership builds good relationships between employees and the company, making customers happier overall.

Increased Employee Engagement

A hallmark of a successful diversity and inclusion plan is the marked increase in employee engagement. Inclusive leaders prioritize open communication, encourage diverse participation, and acknowledge individual contributions. It’s not surprising that this working atmosphere can boost morale and engagement.

It’s only natural that a team member whose perspectives are encouraged and valued will become more invested in both their own work and the organization’s success as a whole.

More engaged team members are more productive, deliver a higher quality of work, and share a sense of commitment to the goals of the company.

Why I Wrote This:

Authoritarian leadership styles are being left behind in favor of more forward-thinking and effective approaches such as inclusive leadership. Both employees and businesses thrive when inclusive leadership is implemented. 

If you choose to adopt this leadership style, you’ll benefit from more engaged, valued, and loyal employees. Plus, your business can profit from a higher standard of work, lower staff turnover, and a diversity of opinion that transforms problem-solving and drives innovation. 

Hiring inclusive leadership starts with job descriptions. If you want to learn more about creating the best (and most inclusive) JDs ont he planet, request a demo of Ongig to learn more.

by in Diversity and Inclusion